The 46th Research Institute for Higher Education (RIHE) Annual Study Meeting was held in combination with the annual symposium of the RIHE-chaired “Humanities and Social Science” section of the Council for Research Institutes and Centers of Japanese National Universities. The meeting was opened by two keynote addresses which tackled the topic of “Research environment and research evaluation in the university: Expect for the desirable development of the humanities and social sciences.”
The Council is a network of Research Institutes and Centers from across Japan, some of which are officially designated as Joint Usage/Research Centers by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), while others are not. It is difficult to speculate what criteria are used to evaluate their research and identify those deserving of an official designation. We could easily speculate that authorities must make use of bibliometric data in the assessment of institutes and centers in the humanities and social sciences, in line with the norms of research assessment in the natural sciences. However, it appears difficult to express the quality of research in the humanities and social sciences in this manner. Therefore, developing alternative methods for research evaluation in the humanities and social sciences is a critical issue for higher education studies. While time is short to develop such methods, it falls to the field of higher education studies to apply itself to this important task.